Input on anticompetitive characteristic of public code

Carsten Agger agger at
Fri Jun 22 13:22:29 UTC 2018

On 22-06-2018 08:21, Bastien wrote:

> But it's not just "free SaaS": any kind of SaaS comes with hidden
> operational costs which prevents a rational approach of what would be
> a fair price.  (Google Maps prices, for example, were certainly not
> very fair regarding competition: they first killed the market then
> increased their price a lot.)  When a company deploys free softwares,
> they are just running a kind of service over some hidden operational
> costs, that of the free softwares themselves, the difference being
> that those costs are supported by the free software communities.
That's not actually so different from proprietary software development - 
much if not most proprietary software is created with extensive use of 
free software, especially since GNU/Linux systems and Unix tools seem to 
be preferred by developers.  So there's also some cost supported by free 
sofware communities in the pricing of proprietary software.

On the other hand, a very common use case is that some public authority 
needs some software to support their business processes - salary 
payment, finances, recruitment workflows, vocabularies, etc.

Much of this software either doesn't exist yet or doesn't exist as free 
software, and in that case the price becomes very transparent - the 
vendor's hourly rate times the development and project management hours 
needed to finish and deploy the system, plus the monthly cost of a 
service level agreement with bug fixes etc.

This is of course much more transparent than the typical asking prices 
for proprietary software. The tricky parts come if a) the vendor decides 
to sell the first system below cost as an investment in future sales and 
support contracts, and/or b) the initial estimates are too low because 
the processes are more complex than assumed by the vendor (or, at times, 
the client).

But still, if the price is specified on an invoice as number of hours 
worked it doesn't get much more transparent than that.


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